It's that time of year again. Christmas! This year will be a bit different than the past five years due to being newly single after going through the big D. Everyone knows divorce can be a liberating experience but it can also wreak havoc on your life. I am not sure which will be the case for me. I seem to be on a piano wire balancing between these two eventualities. For I had better get my shit together or everything after Christmas will feel like a plane crash.
I received an invite from my mother to come over for Christmas. It was nicer than her usual feel free to stop by to get a plate spiel. It was filled with baby this and baby that as if I had been warped thirty-five years into the past. I wasn't going to make a big deal of it, though. All things considered, it felt good to be fawned over a little bit. With this new path, I was on I hadn't really positioned myself for tender loving care. There was only work and sleep on my plate. A feast fit for a pauper. Now I was going to go to my mother's Christmas feast, but if I had something better to do, I would prefer that instead. You see, my mother had a way of turning a family gathering into a lecture or a sermon. No sooner than your arrival it would start with a look. My mother had the eye. She would scan you from head to toe. Nothing escaped her gaze as she picked up on every mannerism and imperfection you thought you had tucked away. I would have to endure. As I said earlier, it wasn't as if I had something better to do.
It was now a little afternoon and I had the good fortune to be able to sleep in for a change. Hell, I felt like lying in bed all day. I hadn't been off from work on a holiday for quite some time and this would be a welcome escape from my usual routine. The gathering wouldn't begin until 2 PM, so there was plenty time for me to make it there. Grab a bite to eat, shower, and get dressed all while watching the sports channel.
As I stepped outside a brisk breeze greeted me at the door. It was unusually cold. Typically, the temperature would be around the mid to high sixties. Today it was forty-five degrees. Not the coldest, but for someone living in South Florida, it may as well been freezing. I hadn't put on anything too bulky so my sweater and slacks ensemble would have to do. It would be okay seeing as I would be indoors. The drive over to my mother's home wasn't bad. There were very few vehicles on the road. I left my apartment minutes after 2:30 and arrived at my mother's around 3:15 PM. Yeah, I wasn't planning on being on time, but a little after the start time was just where I wanted to be. It's the perfect way to mingle. Late enough to be greeted by guests and early enough to greet those that arrive after you. Have to stay busy or risk getting cornered.
I arrived and noticed a few cars already parked in the front of the house. Seems my strategy was set to work perfectly. I quickly parked, exited my vehicle, and made haste to the front door. As I stood on the porch in front of the door I could hear voices and Christmas music as it leaked through any opening making its way to the outside world. I rang the doorbell. It was a few seconds before I heard a familiar voice on the other side.
“Who is it?”
“It's me, Mom!” I shouted back.
The door swung open and I was greeted with a big hug. I don't know what it is about a mother's hug. It has this way of making you feel like no matter what you are going through everything will be alright. We stood there hugging for a moment before our eyes met.
I don't know if she saw what I had tucked away deep in my heart but soon after our eyes meet she said, “Don’t worry, baby, everything will be OK. I have just the thing for you.”
I almost burst into tears. Took all I had to not end up sobbing in front of the few guests that had already arrived. But what did she mean by she had just the thing for me?
“Come this way.” Mom stated as she took me by the hand.
With me in tow, we moved quickly through the living room towards the back patio. Now, the back patio is pretty big. There is enough room to host a small gathering of about fifteen to twenty people, such as this, with ease. This was not your traditional screened in patio. This patio had long rectangular windows along each wall from the top of the ceiling coming down about halfway. Each window went the full width of the wall. Along one side of the wall was a couch and in the center of the patio hanging from the ceiling are two sixty inch televisions back to back just above an island in the center of the patio. Positioned around that island are bar stools. In the corner opposite the couch is a grill with a chimney. Also as an added touch, the patio was equipped with surround sound that was able to play music or the sound from the televisions. It was perfect entertaining a small group of people. I always looked at it being a sort of VIP room. As we made our way through the door, I barely had time to say anything to the few people that had already arrived. From my count, there seemed to be only seven people in attendance. As we arrived on the patio I was able to greet a few cousins that had arrived before I came to a stop.
“Jacqueline, this is my son Anthony I have been telling you about.”
Wait. What? So this is what she meant by she had just the thing for me. Now there I stood like a lamb before the slaughter.
“Hi, nice to meet you.” I said impulsively.
“It’s nice to finally meet you too,” she replied.
Man, her voice was so smooth. Not high pitched but not deep either. I had not a clue of what to do or say next. From the looks of things, Jacqueline seemed very interested in meeting me. I only say that because she had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen on a woman. Her cheeks. Her medium brown skin tone. Those pearly whites of hers just seemed to gleam in the sunlight. The whole scene seemed like something out of a movie. I have no clue as to how long I had been staring at her but at some point, I heard my name being called.
“Anthony, are you OK?” My mother said as she shook my arm.
“Ummmm, yeah,” I whispered as I stood there trying to figure out what had happened.
Jacqueline just stared back at me with this smirk on her face. It was like she was the spider and I was caught in her web.
“Anthony, your mother has been telling me so much about you,” she stated as she took a step towards me.
“Is that right?”
“She was telling me that you had just gotten divorced and that she was worried about you.”
“Is that so? Well, that’s my mother for you. It is difficult, but it just is taking some getting used to.”
“Well, you don’t look all downtrodden as your mother made you out to be,” she said giggling.
“Why, thank you,” I said managing to laugh as well at the silliness of it all.
Our conversation continued like this for some time. It was just two people getting to know one another. It was as if Jacqueline and I were inside this bubble. It was her and I and no one else existed. Laughing, comparing mothers, and sharing old funny moments of our lives. We had been talking for quite a bit before I heard my name being called again. This time I knew instantly who it was.